Picture books give us an opportunity to broach difficult subjects with children. The Sunsets of Miss Olivia Wiggins is about Alzheimer’s Disease and how it affects families.

Miss Olivia is in a care facility because of her condition.

Miss Olivia Wiggins sits and looks at nothing and at everything, all at the same time.

Miss Olivia’s memories are triggered by little things around her, even though she does not respond outwardly. Her daughter and great-grandson sit with her, without knowing that she does have memories of them. It is a sad picture of what many families go through.

When I was a teenager and young adult, I worked as a nurses aid in the local rest home. There were many different kinds of people with different diagnoses, and I cared for and about more than a few with Alzheimer’s.

Every Alzheimer’s patient experiences the disease differently. Not all sit quietly like Miss Olivia, and there are different stages to the disease. Families also have different ways to cope with the changes to their loved ones. 

The story is bittersweet, Miss Olivia shows no reaction to her family in the here and now, but she basks in the love that followed her and flowed from her for all of her life. I find that comforting, and I hope young readers will too.

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